chapter  5
20 Pages

Cultivating Citizens in the Making

I sometimes wonder how my life would have played out in terms of my commitment to and engagement in social justice issues associated with the communities of belonging I have allied myself with over the years if I had stayed in south Texas instead of moving to Chicago to live with my sister in the summer of 1967 where I attended my last year of high school. Because I worked the second shift (4 pm to midnight) at Admiral Corporation (a television factory that produced cathode ray tubes) in the company of Puerto Rican and African American working-class men twice my age during my senior year at Carl Schurz High School, I had little time to consider much less become involved in political activity of any kind. Although demonstrations at the Democratic convention raged downtown during the summer of 1968 right after I graduated from high school, I remember paying little attention to the ruckus beyond reading about it in the newspapers or seeing it on the evening news. All that changed when at the end of that summer I enrolled at the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle (UICC) and immediately became involved in the growing anti-war movement on campus. For the first time in my life, I began to ponder what it meant to be an active citizen, to worry less about myself and more about others, and to imagine ways in which what I was learning in the classroom could be put to productive use in historically underserved communities of color beyond the academy.